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Business Travelers Still Favor In-Person Interactions

Research shows the majority question the effectiveness of relying solely on virtual interactions in relationship building

The majority of business travelers are questioning the effectiveness of screen-based virtual interactions as their primary meeting method. Although remote work and virtual meetings are here to stay, a recent survey of business travelers found most felt those modes are clearly lacking when it comes to relationship building.

Respondents said the main weaknesses of virtual meetings are:

•           Lack of human contact (66 percent)

•           Limited interaction (58 percent)

•           Easy distraction (54 percent)

•           Unsuitability for some meeting types (51 percent)

•           “Zoom fatigue” and technology issues (49 percent)

Nearly three quarters (74 percent) of respondents ranked face-to-face meetings as the most important reason for business travel, followed by team building, sales meetings and meetings with partners or suppliers.

The main travel concerns have remained consistent throughout the pandemic. Travelers mainly worry about quarantine on arrival, followed by concerns over sudden lockdowns and rapidly changing travel regulations.

In the survey of 738 business travelers worldwide, conducted by BCD Travel, over three quarters (76 percent) of respondents said business travel helps them perform their work more efficiently. Once travel returns, the majority (60 percent) said they would prefer to return to pre-pandemic levels of business travel, while 26 percent prefer to travel less and 9 percent to travel more.

Corporate travel policies in a post-pandemic environment should focus on the return on the travel dollar investment. Companies should allow travelers to decide for themselves whether to travel, according to nearly two-thirds (64 percent) of survey respondents. In addition, they want a more simplified trip approval process (58 percent) and the choice of direct flights to be prioritized (53 percent).